April 27, 2009 Rotogram

STARKVILLE DEVELOPMENT

Rotarian Jon Maynard, Greater Starkville Development Partnership president and CEO, will brief us on current economic development efforts.

NEXT WEEK

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney will bring an update. Chaney was elected to the Mississippi insurance post last November by a 57 percent vote.

LAST WEEK

Invocation and Pledge: Jack Harder

Attendance: There were 104 members (31 exempt) present, and 96 (24 exempt, 10 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: Joe Phillips of Gulf Shores, Ala., was our visiting Rotarian. Members’ guests included Warren Oakley of Larry Box, Pat Matthes of Frances Coleman, and Mary Ann Arnold, Jean Triplett, Beverly and Nelson Jones, Jane Loveless and Mark Williams of John Robert Arnold. Guests of the Club were Terri Reese; Taka Sato, Youth Exchange Student; Paul Sims, Starkville Daily News; and, Jarred Reneau, Ambassadorial Cultural Scholar.

Makeups: Frank Chiles in West Point, Gary Chism and Scott Dodd in Columbus, and Martha Wells and Stu Vance on a cruise.

STARKVILLE THEATRE GOES NATIONAL

President Chip noted that we annually support the Starkville Community Theatre; however, this year, there is an added opportunity endorsed by the Club board. The theatre company has won regional honors with its play “The Catfish Moon,” and will compete nationally in Tacoma, Wash. He presented Terri Reese of the SCT with our budgeted $300 donation and added a $500 check for the trip. The troupe will perform a benefit show on June 10 at McComas Hall.

DISTRICT CONFERENCE

Our Club was deeply involved in the annual District 6820 conference in Meridian on April 16-18. However, Assistant District Governor Larry Mullins noted that despite our activity, we still do not have the most members in attendance.

District offices include Nellah Taylor, treasurer; Carey Hardin, Water chair; Jack Forbus, Literacy chair and member of the College of Governors; Stu Vance, COG president; Bill Foster, COG; and Keith Remy, Rotary Youth Exchange chair. This year’s district governor, Joel Clements, is a former member of our Club

ADG Larry reported the surprise of the meeting was the naming of a new annual award for the Club that demonstrates the most service to youth. A much deserved honor was bestowed on the long-time RYE coordinator Keith Remy with the naming of the award for him and his wife Ruth. And, appropriately, our Club was the first recipient of the Keith and Ruth Remy Youth Project Award.

President Chip added that he, Larry and Martha managed a lot of planning time for the 2010 program year. And, he thanked Melanie Mitchell for coordinating our door prize donations.

Next year’s meeting will be in conjunction with District 6800 on a cruise to Mexico.

SAVING OUR SOIL BY NOT TILLING

Increasing crop production while conserving natural resources has been Glover Triplett’s career. As he said, “It’s a journey, not a destination.”

The MSU research professor in plant and soil sciences explained nearly 50 years of work in developing no-till farming methods.

Setting the stage to explain the sustainable agriculture technique, Triplett noted that as the American continent was settled, trees were cut and grassland was tilled, exposing arable land. Through several cycles, the land’s fertility has dropped.

The most recent heavy pressure was put on the soil in the 1970s when soybean prices spiked. In a short time, yields and prices dropped. The government’s answer was the Conservation Reserve Program that took land out of production.

“This type of farming is not sustainable,” said Triplett. “Our annual tillage will deplete the land.”

In the 1963 Agronomy Journal, Triplett coined the term “no-tillage,” earning him the title of the method’s father.

However, Louis Wise was doing no-till research called sod seeding in the early 1950s at Mississippi State. In 1960, Ohio State and Virginia Tech began independent studies. At that time full-season weed control was technologically possible with much less soil stirring.

The question was how to plant in soils that hadn’t been loosened by tilling.

Disking, smoothing, planting and cultivating stresses the land with multiple trips. It decreases water retention and compacts the soil.

In the days of hoes, mules and hand harvesting, it took 145 hours of human labor to get a cotton crop on 10 to 15 acres.

Mechanization cut the time, but multiplied trips over the land. Incremental progress has been seen in Mississippi corn production since 1940 when the average corn yield was 14 bushels per acre. Today it is ten-fold at 130 to 140 bushels.

Triplett asserts that no-till cuts trips across fields, saving increasingly precious resources. From at least four trips, no-till reduces the passes to only a plant and a spray trip.

NAMASTE* FROM UTTARAKHAND

Simply put, the no-till method takes an old pasture or cropland with last year’s organic stubble and turns it into a crop field. The first pass is made to cut a small trench and insert seeds. One other trip is necessary for pesticide and fertilizer application.

Skeptics predicted that the land would have to be conventionally tilled for soil compaction at least every 3 to 4 years. On the contrary, Triplett described a 47-year-old test plot in Ohio that has never been tilled.

For an all-to-brief visit on April 23-25, the 2009 Group Study Exchange team from India’s District 3080 got a whirlwind tour of Starkville and Mississippi State University. Team Leader Man Mohan Singh, second from left, is the past president of the Rotary Club of Chandigarh. Team members, from left, are Harnek Singh from Ladwah, Mohan, Prabhdip Brar and Surbi Kalra from Chandigarh, and Shalini Rawat from Dehradun.
Past President Larry Mullins and Janet hosted a poolside dinner on Friday evening.

Man Mohan, who has been to the U.S. several times observed, “In the North, they have a livelihood; in the South, you have a life.”

*Namaste, a common salutation means “the divine within me greets the divine within you.

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